Friday, August 21, 2009

Wait Listed by Jail-9

"California state and local officials already reeling from budget cuts and public-safety layoffs, are struggling with a federal order to release about 40,000 inmates to reduce prison overcrowding and bracing for the impact on their communities. State officials have said they will appeal the decision, but as a contingency are cobbling together proposals to comply with the order. At the same time, cash-strapped local governments in places such as Los Angeles and Fresno are grappling with how to monitor and support thousands of released inmates at a time of scaled-down police forces and underfunded social-services programs. ... California Attorney General Jerry Brown has said he plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court. ... It is unclear how officials will execute the court's decision. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it is working on proposals to reduce the prison population, but those plans need to be approved by the legislature. If the state doesn't comply with the order, it could be held in contempt and fined. ... The department suggests deporting illegal-immigrant inmates and allowing some low-level offenders to serve the final year of their sentences under house arrest. In addition, the state would reduce sentences of inmates who complete prison rehabilitation programs. ... Some local governments say they are unsure how they will support new parolees and an influx to their county jails at a time when their own budgets have been hit by the recession and the state's financial woes", Bobby White and Ryan Knutson at the WSJ, 7 August 2009, link:

The waiting list for jail keeps growing. Now is California's "Hour of Decision", as Billy Graham would say. Free the prisoners!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Exactly IA. Here's a lookback:

"I'm dubious that it's a good idea for the state to embrace" private prisons, said Steve Fama, an attorney with the nonprofit inmate advocacy group Prison Law Office near San Quentin. Prisons are "a core state function," he said.

The governor should control the prison population by releasing nonviolent offenders and reducing parole revocations, not by building more prisons and sending inmates to other states, Fama said.

California is one of at least 30 states that have turned to the private prison industry for help after realizing that they couldn't build enough prisons to keep pace with a flood of new inmates as lawmakers passed ever-tougher sentencing laws.

Over the last decade, the number of inmate beds in private prisons has jumped sixfold to about 112,000 in mid-2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Most of the growth was at three major operators -- Corrections Corp., Boca Raton, Fla.-based Geo Group and Houston-based Cornell Cos.

"We think we can play a significant role in a solution to the problem" in California, said Tony Grande, Corrections Corp.'s vice president for state government relations. So far, California has sent 317 prisoners to Arizona, 312 to Mississippi and 80 to Tennessee.

Prison industry analysts, impressed with the growing demand for private prison beds, are upbeat. The stocks of the three big companies have shown solid growth this year. "We remain bullish," said Jeffrey T. Kessler, a Lehman Bros. equity researcher in a recent report."